I really struggled to find up-to-date useful information about extending a visa while in Japan. Hopefully this helps somebody else one day.
Who is this for?
Many countries have a Exemption of Visa (Short-Term Stay) for visiting Japan. This allows you to turn up at the airport, fill out a form, and they let you in. Most countries are 90 days.
Visitors with passports from Mexico, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are allowed to apply for an extension:
For nationals of those countries with visa exemptions permitting stays of up to 6 months under the bilateral visa exemption arrangements, those who wish to stay in Japan for more than 90 days are required to apply for an extension of the period of stay to the Ministry of Justice (Regional Immigration Bureau) before the period of permitted stay is to expire.
This page is for people who have a 90 day temporary tourist visa, and would like another one to bring it up to 180 days.
What do I do?
Download the forms
From the Application for Extension of Period of Stay page, you can download the form required. It’s right at the top under “Temporary Visitor”.
I downloaded the Excel file, filled in the information, saved it to a PDF, took it a konbini on an SD card, and printed it for ¥10 a sheet on A4. I used a black pen to tick the boxes clearly after it had printed, but while in the immigration office they provided a blue pen for other people, so it looks like either is good.
(A note on pens, my wife used an erasable pen for some paperwork she had previously, and they asked her to fill the form out again in a ball-point pen.)
Buy a government revenue stamp
The fee is ¥4,000, but you can only pay with revenue stamps (shūnyū inshi).
Before going to the immigration office, I had read that there can be large queues to buy them if you go at a busy period, so I wanted to buy mine ahead of time. I went to a 7-Eleven near where I lived and they sold them. However, they only had them in ¥200 stamps. I didn’t know that they came in larger units so went ahead and bought them there. The government official wasn’t totally keen on me presenting 20 stamps as there’s only one space on the form for the stamp. I would recommend trying to make sure you have one ¥4,000 stamp if possible.
However on the way out of the immigration office I stopped in the konbini to grab some food, and the line for the revenue stamps was only three people deep at about mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. Maybe it’s worse at other times of the day.
The form looks like it’s designed for different types of visas, not just a temporary visitor visa. I brought a photo with me that I’d taken in a photo booth, but it turns out it was not required as the temporary visitor visas don’t have photos. There were two photo booths in the immigration office, however.
Go to the immigration office
The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau office is not far from Tokyo Haneda airport, on the monorail. We got off at Tennozu Isle, walked over the river and got the Shina99 bus three stops. The walk is only about fifteen minutes or so, but if it’s the middle of summer it’s not a fun walk in the heat.
Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau
5 Chome-5-30 Konan, Minato City, Tokyo 108-8255
Open in Apple Maps or Google Maps
I initially went to desk A for my application, but they told me to go to desk B as they handle temporary tourists.
English is sparsely used and the people that helped mostly spoke Japanese first, but I could mostly get by.
They checked over my form, gave me a questionnaire to fill out with a few questions about what I was planning to do with my time, and what I’d already done. I was visiting family, but if you had indicated tourism or sight-seeing, they would expect a more detailed itinerary. They also wanted to know how I was supporting myself financially.
Once this was done, I handed it back in, and about 5 minutes later my visa was added to my passport.
I’ve still not been able to find a decent source for this, but my rough understanding is that you cannot stay in Japan on a temporary tourist visa for more than 180 days in a 365 day period. I had visited Japan a few months before I came on this trip, and the immigration officer spent a minute or so checking that they wouldn’t conflict. However, I cannot confirm that is the magic number.
Please let me know on Twitter if this worked out for you and any updates that may have changed.